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Judas and the Black Messiah | 2021 | R | – 2.7.10

content-ratingsWhy is “Judas and the Black Messiah” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “violence and pervasive language.” The evaluation includes a couple of kissing scenes, several scenes of gunfire being exchanged between police officers and civilians with deaths and bloody wounds shown, police raiding an apartment where several people are shot and one man is shot dead at point-blank range while he is under sedation, discussion and implication of people being murdered by police officers and government agents, several meetings between an informant and an FBI agent where the informant provides information that leads to the murder or arrest of others, a couple of fight scenes, arguments and nearly 90 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

Inspired by historical events: On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party was assassinated in his apartment by law-enforcement agents during a nighttime raid. The agents were helped with information provided by FBI informant Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) to his handler (Jesse Plemons). Also with Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Lil Rel Howery, Dominique Thorne and Martin Sheen. Directed by Shaka King. [Running Time: 2:06]

Judas and the Black Messiah SEX/NUDITY 2

 – A man and a woman kiss passionately (sex is implied). A clothed man and a clothed woman lie in bed together and sex is implied.
 A man and a woman kiss and hug. We understand that a woman is pregnant after a man she is having a relationship with has been sent to prison. A man in a bar asks a woman to go home with him and she walks away from him to talk to another man.
 A woman wears a short skirt that reveals her legs to the mid-thighs. A man is shown shirtless in prison (his bare chest and abdomen are seen; please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).

Judas and the Black Messiah VIOLENCE/GORE 7

 – A man with a gun is shot by police and he shoots back at them (we see blood splatter and several police officers fall to the ground); one officer pleads as the man stands over him and shoots him again off-screen (blood splatters on the gunman’s face) and the gunman is shot and falls to the ground with blood splattering. Many armed police officers arrive at an apartment and shoot through the door striking a man inside in the chest (blood sprays); they then open fire and shoot around the apartment spraying bullets through walls and into rooms where people are sleeping and one man lies unconscious (we see several people with bloody wounds as they are arrested), and one man is shot in the background as his girlfriend is being arrested and an officer holds a gun to her pregnant abdomen. A man exchanges gunfire with police officers in a shop as the officers are trying to arrest other men in the store; he and an officer are shot (we see bloody wounds) and we see the gunman in a hospital later with blood on his hospital gown.
 Police officers gather outside a building shouting racist names and phrases, where people inside arm themselves and prepare to fight; gunfire is exchanged and people in the building are struck, as well as officers on the street (we see bloody wounds); the people in the building surrender and as they come outside, a man is struck by officers and a woman is pushed to the ground, beaten with a club and handcuffed before the officers set the building on fire (we see flames shoot out of the building and we see the charred remains of the building later).
 A man enters a bar identifying himself as an FBI agent and empties the pockets of several people in the bar (we see weapons and identifications placed on a pool table); the man places handcuffs on one man, the man head-butts him and he runs out of the bar, steals a car and drives away as men from the bar climb on the car with one man on the convertible roof slashing through the fabric with a knife and jabbing the man in the abdomen.
 Four people enter a building where many armed people are gathered; two of the men talk while another man places pool balls into a shirt as a weapon and approaches one of the first people threateningly; another man loads a gun and moves toward the man and another man swings a pool cue to back them away (no one is injured). A man in prison is struck by a guard with a club, the man punches the guard and struggles as several other guards surround and restrain him with a club across his throat. A woman holds a gun on another man as he sits in the driver’s seat of a car, she questions him and a man in the backseat hits him in the head, grabs his head, and pulls it back. Two men lunge at each other and argue bitterly.
 A man in a prison is shown shirtless with the words, “Rabble Rouser” carved into his chest (the letters are open and bloody); there are also bloody cigarette burns and his face is bloody and swollen from a beating. A man with a bloody head and face wound presumably from a beating that we do not see (blood and a large gash are shown and blood drips on a floor between his feet) is interrogated by another man. A man is shown strapped to a gurney being wheeled by two police officers as we hear that he died and people conjecture that the police killed him. A man punches another man in the face when he speaks out of turn and cocks a handgun while in a large group of people. A man holds a gun to another man’s abdomen and arrests him in a room filled with children; a woman yells at him. A man with a gun sits in a stairwell and another man is startled by him.
 An office is shown completely ransacked with papers and furniture strewn around and overturned. We see crime scene photos with chalk outlines of bodies on the floor. A man has a nightmare where he holds a gun to his own head, pleads with himself not to shoot, and says that he is not a rat (he wakes up a fright).
 People talk about an informant being caught and killed; they describe him being tortured and burned with cigarettes and having boiling water poured on his genitals before being thrown into a river. A man talks about two young people being arrested while trying to register people to vote; he says, “They were delivered to the Klan,” and explains that they were shot and one of them had his genitals cut off. A man talks about another man having been shot in the head and killed by police. Several African-American people enter a building where other people are gathered and a Confederate flag that is considered a symbol of racism hangs on a wall behind a man speaking to them. We see what looks like newsreel footage of police wearing riot gear and carrying guns and clubs as they disperse crowds of protestors, beating some people and handcuffing others. A man says, “I swear on my kids,” when talking to another man about not revealing his identity as an FBI informant. A man asks another man, “What will you do when she [his infant daughter] brings home a [derogatory term for African-American people deleted]?” and the other man is taken aback. A man talks about another man killing in Korea for survival and refers to raping, pillaging and conquering as being the future of America if Black people get rights. A man calls out to a crowd, “Kill a few pigs, get a little satisfaction… Kill ’em all and get complete satisfaction.” We hear that a man’s appeal was overturned and he is being sent back to prison.
 Three men argue when one man arrives with C-4 in his car trunk and says that it’s enough to blow up city hall. A man collects weapons from four people in a car and one man is shown to have had a few guns hidden in his clothing.
 A man is scolded for trying to take liberties with a woman and he is made to do push-ups as punishment. A man is told that he will serve time for a stolen car and impersonating a federal officer. A man talks about the Black Panther Party being the largest threat to national security. We hear people discussing a city in flames as we read headlines about the Chicago fire. People discuss a rebellion, a revolution, police harassment and racism in many scenes. A man says that a badge is scarier than a gun. A woman tells a man that he should reconsider the words he uses when trying to promote a movement and to be careful about tearing people down that he is trying to inspire. A man says, “War is politics with bloodshed, and politics is war without bloodshed.” A man describes groups as sewing hatred and inspiring terror. A man dictates the contents of a flyer to be used to pit two groups against each other. A man says that if you are a young person and say, “I’m too young to die, you’re dead already.” We hear that a man committed suicide.
 A woman vomits into a desk drawer (we see a bit of goo). A woman talks about her son when he was young and that he asked to be excused from church because he had to “pass gas.”

Judas and the Black Messiah LANGUAGE 10

 – About 89 F-words and its derivatives, 33 scatological terms, 11 anatomical terms, 10 mild obscenities, 21 derogatory terms for African-American people, 3 derogatory terms for Caucasian people, name-calling (2-bit shakedown artist, coward, pig, Tricky Dickey Nixon, Southern devils, baddest pig, thief, Philistine, terrorist, snitch, fascist, nefarious, jive, idiot, hippies, rats, chump, Uncle Tom, watermelon head, Daley’s henchmen, blood thirsty, murderous, Dick Tracy, jive sissies, cowardly, clown, mystery man, funky, filthy, rednecks, rabbit), exclamations (calm down, wow, you out your mind, shut the [F-word deleted] up), 21 religious profanities (GD), 2 religious exclamations (God, God Forbid). | profanity glossary |

Judas and the Black Messiah SUBSTANCE USE

 – A man gives another man in a bar a vial of white powder to use to sedate another man. A police officer holds a can of beer while staking out a building, a man drinks alcohol in his office in several scenes, a man drinks whiskey in his home, two men drink in a restaurant in a couple of restaurant scenes, people drink in a bar scene, and a man orders a whiskey for a man in a restaurant. Men smoke cigarettes and cigars in many scenes throughout the movie and we see them on streets, in offices, in bars, cars and homes.

Judas and the Black Messiah DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – The Black Panther Party, police harassment, racism, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Emmett Till, Vietnam War, spirit of activism, reform, capitalism, socialism, Che Guevara, Richard Daley, oppression, discipline, terrorism, organization, preparation, role models, conspiracy, “Eyes on the Prize 2,” justice, legacy, sharecroppers, Rainbow Coalition.

Judas and the Black Messiah MESSAGE

 – Under J. Edgar Hoover the FBI was a racist organization that was not above assassinating prominent leaders, with help from local police departments, he deemed as dangerous to the status quo.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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